The UK's highest-ever box office takings don't tell the full story

Ticket sales are still relatively flat.

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Mongrel Media

All told, 2015 was a pretty good year for UK cinemas. Fuelled by blockbusters such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World, theaters took £1,240 million over the 12 months -- a new record, and 17 percent higher than 2014. With so much money in the coffers, you would think that cinema attendances were healthy too. Well, yes and no. Ticket sales hit 171.9 million, which was a 9 percent increase over the previous 12 months. Look back at the numbers since 2000, however, and the trend is relatively flat. A high of 175.9 million in 2002, a low of 156.6 million in 2006, another peak of 173.5 million in 2009. You get the idea.

That's not to say attendances were bad in 2015 though. Admittedly, they weren't near the highs of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, but they're far above what was recorded in the 1980s and 90s. Despite the rise of streaming and online piracy, Brits still enjoy seeing the latest films in the cinema.

As part of today's data dump, BFI has also broken down the theatrical winners and losers from 2015 -- rounding out the top five are Star Wars, Spectre, Jurassic World, The Avengers and Minions. The same spots in the UK indie film leaderboard were taken by Legend, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Shaun the Sheep Movie, The Lady in the Van and Suffragette. The Oscar-nominated AI thriller Ex Machina, meanwhile, could only manage the eleventh slot, pulling in £2.89 million at the box office. A far cry from Shaun the Sheep's £13.75 million, but given the film was made with a £10 million budget, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

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